Tucked between buzzy Clapham and newly-cool Tooting, Balham is something of a south London hotspot. Though it has kept its local community feel, SW12 now offers a wide variety of restaurants, some cool cocktail bars and plenty of characterful pubs. Just off the high road, Hildreth Street is well worth a visit, especially now its age-old market is surrounded by an enviable selection of coffee shops, delis and brunch spots. Whether you’re young or slightly-less-young, there’s definitely a place for you to hang out in Balham.
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Things to do in Balham
Restaurants in Balham
‘Steak is what we do’, says the blurb, but don’t come here expecting the dark, sultry glitz of a US steakhouse. Arlo’s is a bright, clean-lined child-friendly spot where the owners seek out the more obscure grass-fed native British breeds and offer three cuts (bavette, hanger, rib-eye) with various sides – although we’d pick a zingy salad over their washout hand-cut chips and sourdough ‘trenchers’.
Balham’s poshest gastropub is a summertime hole-up par excellence, with no fewer than three outdoor spaces to explore: a chilled courtyard area, a buzzy terrace and a fully laid-out garden. Inside, the bar is a good-time spot for drinkers, while the elegant dining room caters to those who prefer chorizo scotch eggs, stone-baked pizzas, dry-aged steaks, plant-based ‘B12’ burgers and sweet banoffee pie.
Famous as an iconic music venue and comedy club, this sprawling Balham boozer is now making some noise as a foodie destination following its re-launch. Head to the handsome dining room at the back for a savvy menu of crowd-pleasers (fish and chips, burgers, steaks) mixed in with the kind of dishes that’ll make you feel trendy (pumpkin ravioli, Moving Mountains vegan burgers, flatbreads with labneh etc). They do proper Sunday roasts too.
Put together on a shoestring by three multi-talented, twentysomething school friends, Brother Marcus sells itself as an all-purpose neighbourhood hangout. By day, it offers breakfast and brunch, small plates and Caravan coffee; in the evenings, it’s all about cocktails and warm focaccia buns; and at the weekends (evenings only), the kitchen is handed over to one of the owners’ street-food or supper-club buddies.